There are certain requirements for the testing of equipment used on a regular basis in the workplace, many of which are legally required. These cover everything from major machinery to small electrical items – such as lamps, computers, heaters and so on – for which a regular PAT test is required. What is PAT, and why is it so important? Let’s have a closer look.
What is PAT?
PAT is Portable Appliance Testing, and it is a routine that needs to be carried out on a set basis to ensure that all electrical appliances in the workplace are safe for their intended use. It is a legal requirement, yet is quite a simple process for someone who has been properly trained in PAT testing and the use of the simple equipment that is used.
What appliances are covered by PAT? Anything that has an electrical power source that is used in your workplace. This includes the computer, lamp and any other items on your desk; the photocopier, scanner, ad Wi-Fi hubs around the office; heaters, lights and any other peripherals that use a mains electric power source are also covered.
The requirement is for all equipment that is PAT tested to be checked following a set routine, the results to be recorded, and the records kept for five years, and to be readily available for inspection on request. A trained operative will be able to perform the task easily.
Indeed, there is no legal requirement for the PAT tester; they simply have to be a competent person. However, it is strongly recommended you have one or more persons trained. It is not a long course, and will teach them what they are looking for, how to understand the readings on any meters they may use, and how to correctly record or upload the data, and how to fill in the relevant paperwork.
What Does PAT Require?
Training for PAT testing will teach the operative that there are two main areas of the test: a visual check, and checks with a multimeter or, in some specified instances, other forms of electrical metering. The visual check is the first section of the test, and involves looking for the following, and more:
- Loose wiring
- Damage to wiring and cables
- Damage to casings
- Signs of wear and tear that may be problematic
- Any other obvious problems
Anyone can see when wires are loose, and if cables have been damaged, so clearly this is not a difficult process.
The meter checks will involve checking the voltage is correct, that resistance is adequate, and that the equipment is earthed, and using the right amount of power. Full training will be given in understanding these readings – you do not have to be an expert to read off a multimeter and write down the results, and training will teach you how to correctly record the results. PAT Testers provides such training.
How often should PAT testing take place? This depends upon your individual company. If you are a growing affair, you should endeavour to enrol more candidates on a regular basis – perhaps every few months – as roles will change. It is also handy to have trained PAT testers around, as you will undoubtedly bring in new equipment every now and again, which will need to be tested before use.
Also, you may need to keep on top of the regulations regarding PAT, as new developments in technology may mean new requirements within the test. Check with your PAT training provider, and they will be able to help you find the best option for your training requirements.